Nets 3 goals: How Kessler Edwards can grow in the G-League

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2021-22 will be an intriguing two-way season to watch for Brooklyn’s 2021 second-round pick Kessler Edwards. The Pepperdine product recently agreed to a two-way deal with the Nets, and can play up to 50 games with the team.

One of the significant differences for a player like Edwards in the new two-way structure is that he can have unlimited practice time with his NBA team even if he isn’t suiting up in games.

Nets fans got their first glimpse of the 2020-21 WCC first-teamer at NBA Summer League, where after a slow start he broke out against the Washington Wizards for 14 points and a number of defensive gems. Attacking this Corey Kispert closeout in a late shot clock situation was a particularly fun flash:

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Edwards was branded as a prototypical “3-and-D” NBA wing, but that broad, overused archetype will lead you down many different rabbit holes when further analyzing a prospect with that label. The best defense Edwards played at Pepperdine was as a team defender, helping to cover up the mistakes of his teammates with length, timing, and intelligence to be able to guard in nearly every spot on the floor.

The funky jumper mechanics were a big question for many, but he nearly never had an issue getting his shot off or making those shots at a decent clip while in college.

What would define a successful year for the two-way tweener? Here are three goals for Edwards heading into his first NBA campaign:

Don't be asked to shoot

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While at Pepperdine, there were games that left you scratching your head about why Edwards didn't go takeover mode against matchups he could exploit. Sure, when he had it going early from the perimeter he had no issues continuing to fire away, but certain times he let the game come to him a little too much. This tentativeness continued in moments at NBA Summer League, where he would turn down driving lanes or looks at a three in favor of giving the ball up. One of the hardest things for NBA rookies who don't come in with a lot of buzz can be confidence in their abilities. Getting a player to take shots is often a harder step than getting them to make shots. G-League reps with Long Island could go a long way in this department, as Edwards can play heavy minutes and be an offensive focal point.

Be a sponge

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There is good and bad to playing on a stacked roster as a two-way rookie. Sure, there may not be as many opportunities on a championship caliber roster as there are on a lottery-bound squad, but there is also a reason those players are championship quality. Edwards has an excellent chance to learn from his veterans on a roster full of players who have been there and done that. While so many rosters are losing their veteran leadership in favor of taking swings on young talent, the Nets have a number of excellent vets to steal wisdom from.

Improve his handle

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This is the one glaring and improvable issue for Edwards that can unlock a lot of improvement. He has never quite had the ability to break guys down with his handle or to want to put it on the deck as a first option. He doesn't need to become a ball-dominant, dribble-drive scorer, he just needs to hone in on wanting to attack closeouts (like that above example against the Wizards), being comfortable enough to take a few dribbles here and there against NBA defenders, and be perceived as more of a threat to drive. Once again, this is an excellent area to work on with NBA G-League reps in Long Island.

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